What is the CentOS?

Dive into CentOS, the go-to open-source OS for reliable, enterprise-grade solutions. Learn why it's the choice of IT professionals.

Updated: 10 Mar, 24 by Lisa P 15 Min

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Ever wondered about the backbone of countless server infrastructures powering the digital world? Look no further than CentOS (Community ENTerprise Operating System). But what is the centos in Linux, and why is it such a pivotal player in the realm of operating systems? What are the centos used for? Let's delve into the core of CentOS, its origins, functionalities, and why it's a go-to choose for many tech enthusiasts and businesses alike.

CentOS, or Community Enterprise Operating System, is a Linux distribution that promises to be a free, open-source, and community-driven alternative to its commercial counterpart, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It is known for its stability, dependability, and long-term support, making it a popular choice for servers and enterprise contexts.

CentOS is developed and maintained by a devoted community of contributors, and it inherits most of RHEL's technology and capabilities while removing the associated licensing fees. This makes it an appealing choice for enterprises, organizations, and people looking for a reliable and cost-effective operating system (OS) for their computing needs. One of Its primary assets is its compatibility with RHEL, which allows users to switch between the two versions without losing compatibility or performance.

Now that you know what is the centos in Linux, you should know it`s components. There are different aspects or components related to CentOS, the Community Enterprise Operating System. Here's an explanation for each of the terms:


CentOS SIGs, or Special Interest Groups, are specialized teams within the CentOS community that concentrate on certain areas of interest or skill. These groups work together to create, maintain, and promote CentOS packages, repositories, and features relevant to their respective areas, which include cloud computing (cloud platform), virtualization, storage, and others. SIGs play an important role in improving and expanding It to suit the different needs of its users and communities.

CentOS Stream

CentOS Stream operates as a rolling-release Linux distribution, acting as a developmental precursor to Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). It offers users a constant influx of updates and features, granting real-time access to the latest advancements from Red Hat's development initiatives. Serving as a testing arena for upcoming RHEL iterations, CentOS Stream empowers users to engage in the development process and offer valuable feedback.

CentOS Linux

CentOS Linux denotes the classic CentOS distribution, crafted upon the sturdy foundations of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), offering a steadfast release cycle coupled with enduring support. Tailored for environments demanding unwavering stability and predictability, CentOS Linux stands as the preferred solution for server infrastructures and enterprise applications, furnishing a dependable platform for diverse computing needs.

Yes, CentOS is indeed undergoing changes. As of December 2021, CentOS Linux 8 has reached its end of life (EOL), ceasing to receive updates and security patches. The remaining version, CentOS Linux 7, is scheduled to reach its EOL on June 30, 2024, ending its support and update cycle. However, amidst these transitions, CentOS Stream persists as a relevant project, serving as a continually evolving iteration of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). With ongoing maintenance, CentOS Stream offers a viable alternative to CentOS Linux, ensuring a path forward for users seeking continuity and reliability.

CentOS is an ideal choice for various use cases due to several compelling reasons:

Reason #1: Security

CentOS is known for its strong security features and procedures. CentOS provides a secure environment for servers and essential applications by delivering timely updates and fixes, as well as the assistance of a dedicated community.

Reason #2: Extended Support

CentOS provides long-term support for its releases, assuring stability and reliability throughout time. This makes it appropriate for production environments where continuous uptime is critical and frequent system updates may be impractical or undesirable.

Reason #3: Package Management

CentOS utilizes the YUM (Yellowdog Updater, Modified) package manager (or its successor, DNF) for efficient package management. With vast repositories containing a wide range of software packages, CentOS makes it easy to install, update, and manage applications and dependencies.

Reason #4: A Wealth of Documentation

CentOS benefits from a comprehensive online documentation and resource base, which includes official documentation, community forums, and user guides. This plethora of information simplifies troubleshooting, configuration, and optimization, allowing users to deploy and operate CentOS systems more successfully.

Reason #5: Management & Control Panel Support

CentOS works with a variety of management and control panel solutions often seen in server environments. Whether it's web hosting control panels like cPanel or virtualization management tools like Virtualmin, CentOS provides seamless integration and support, making server administration easier for users.

While CentOS Linux itself is reaching its end of life on June 30, 2024, it was historically used for various purposes, particularly in server environments. Here we tell you What is the CentOS used for:

  • Web Hosting: One of the most common use cases, especially for businesses due to its stability, security, and compatibility with various web hosting control panels.
  • File and Print Servers: Often used to manage and share files and printers within an organization due to its reliability and ease of administration.
  • Application Servers: Served as a platform for deploying and running various applications, especially those requiring a stable and secure environment.
  • Development and Testing: Used by developers for building, testing, and deploying applications due to its familiarity and resemblance to Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
  • Cloud Computing: Employed in cloud environments due to its lightweight nature and compatibility with cloud infrastructure tools.

Now that you know What is the CentOS used for, you may want to know its benefits. CentOS has a compelling mix of advantages, including cost effectiveness, stability, customization choices, and strong community support, making it a great choice for people and businesses looking for a dependable and versatile operating system solution. Here, we discuss the benefits of CentOS.

Benefit #1: Cost Effectiveness

CentOS is an affordable choice for consumers and businesses looking to cut costs without sacrificing performance or dependability. CentOS's free and open-source distribution avoids the need for costly license costs associated with proprietary operating systems, making it an appealing option for budget-conscious customers.

Benefit #2: Stability

CentOS is synonymous with stability, rooted in the robust foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). Offering a steadfast and trustworthy platform, CentOS is tailored to support various computing tasks with unwavering reliability. Backed by rigorous testing protocols and long-term support commitments, CentOS ensures consistent stability, making it a dependable choice for even the most demanding production environments.

Benefit #3: Customization

CentOS has many customization options, allowing users to modify their operating system environment to their needs and interests. With access to a huge catalog of software packages and configuration tools, users may quickly tailor CentOS to their own requirements, whether for server deployments, development environments, or personal desktop use.

Benefit #4: Community Support

The CentOS community is a thriving and active ecosystem of users, developers, and enthusiasts who work together to give assistance, share expertise, and contribute to the distribution's continuous improvement. CentOS users have access to a plethora of tools and expertise, whether via online forums, user groups, or community-driven documentation, to help them troubleshoot issues, find answers, and maximize their CentOS experience.

CentOS Linux and CentOS Stream are two alternative distributions within the CentOS ecosystem, each offering distinct functions and catering to different user needs:

CentOS Linux: CentOS Linux is the conventional CentOS distribution, which has a defined release cycle based on stable releases of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). CentOS Linux offers long-term support and is ideal for production environments where reliability and predictability are critical. CentOS Linux users often choose a classic, steady release approach that includes fewer regular updates.

CentOS Stream: CentOS Stream, on the other hand, is a rolling-release distribution that serves as a continuous development version of RHEL. It provides a constant stream of updates and features, offering users access to the latest innovations from Red Hat's development efforts in real-time. CentOS Stream is designed for users who want to stay at the forefront of technology and participate in the ongoing development process of RHEL. It acts as a testing ground for future versions of RHEL and enables users to provide feedback and contribute to the development process.

Here's a breakdown of CentOS Linux vs Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL):

The Main Difference: Support

  • CentOS Linux: Free, community-driven project. Relied on volunteers for bug fixes and security updates. As of June 30, 2024, CentOS Linux 7 (the last version) will no longer be supported.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL): Commercial product with paid subscriptions. Offers guaranteed support for a longer period (typically 5-10 years) from Red Hat engineers.


  • Codebase: Both distributions are built on the same source code from Red Hat. This means they have nearly identical functionality and features.
  • Package Management: Both use similar package managers like Yum for installing and managing software.
  • Stability: Both prioritize stability and focus on security patches over bleeding-edge features.

Choosing Between Them:

CentOS: A good choice for personal use, learning Linux, or small businesses that can manage their own servers and don't need long-term support. (Though keep in mind the upcoming EOL for CentOS 7).

RHEL: Ideal for mission-critical applications in businesses that require guaranteed support, stability, and access to Red Hat's expertise.

While CentOS has many advantages, there are certain hazards involved with using the operating system. It's important to think about these risks before jumping in:

  • Security Risks: Despite being reliable, CentOS can still face security issues if updates aren't applied or the system isn't set up securely. This might leave it open to cyberattacks or data breaches.
  • Limited Help: Since CentOS relies mainly on community support, getting official help can be tough compared to paid options like Red Hat. You might need to rely more on forums and online guides for troubleshooting.
  • Compatibility Problems: While CentOS tries to work like Red Hat, it can still have issues with certain software or hardware. This might be a hassle if you're trying to fit it into an existing setup or using specialized software.
  • Missing Features: CentOS might not have all the fancy features you'd get with a paid version like RHEL. That could be a problem if you need things like special management tools or technical support.
  • End of Life: It releases eventually stop getting updates, leaving them open to known issues. When this happens, your system might not meet security standards or might not work with newer software.
  • Changes Ahead: CentOS changed a lot in December 2020 with CentOS Stream. While it has benefits like new features, some people worry about unexpected changes or not knowing where the project is headed.

With CentOS reaching its end of life, several alternative operating systems offer similar functionality and stability:

  • Rocky Linux:
  • Community-driven: Developed by community members, including the co-founder of CentOS.
  • Focuses on stability and compatibility: Aims to be a drop-in replacement for CentOS with full binary compatibility, making migration easier.
  • Long-term support: Offers ten years of support, similar to CentOS.
  • AlmaLinux:
  • Community-backed: Supported by a consortium of companies.
  • Binary compatible: Ensures smooth migration from CentOS with minimal package adjustments.
  • Long-term support: Provides ten years of support, aligning with industry standards.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL):
  • Commercial solution: Supported by Red Hat with paid subscriptions.
  • Guaranteed support: Offers long-term support (typically 5-10 years) with access to Red Hat's expertise and resources.
  • Full compatibility: Provides complete compatibility with CentOS, minimizing migration challenges.
  • Oracle Linux:
  • Free, commercially supported: Offered by Oracle, but with optional paid support options.
  • Red Hat compatible: Fully compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, allowing easy migration from CentOS.
  • Focus on enterprise workloads: Tailored for running databases, application servers, and other enterprise applications.

Note: Before making a decision, you must thoroughly consider your needs and available resources. When deciding on the best CentOS option for your specific requirements, keep money, technical knowledge, existing infrastructure, and software compatibility in mind.

CentOS prioritizes stability and reliability, ideal for server environments and enterprises, with predictable updates. Ubuntu offers a balance between stability and innovation, serving desktop and server users alike, with frequent releases and LTS versions. CentOS suits those needing enterprise-grade features, while Ubuntu's versatility fits various use cases.

CentOS focuses on stability for servers and enterprises, based on RHEL. Debian emphasizes open-source values and flexibility. CentOS suits those needing compatibility with RHEL, while Debian's versatility fits various use cases.


Now, you know what is the centos in Linux. It is a strong and reliable Linux distribution known for its stability, dependability, and large community support. Whether running servers in enterprise situations or serving as a versatile platform for a variety of computing purposes, CentOS remains a popular choice among users throughout the world. CentOS, with its origins in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and a commitment to open-source ideals, exemplifies the Linux community's collaborative spirit by providing a robust and accessible operating system solution for everybody. As technology advances and new challenges emerge, CentOS stays committed to providing a stable and secure platform that allows users to innovate and succeed in the ever-changing landscape of modern computing.

CentOS is primarily used as a server operating system, offering stability, reliability, and long-term support. It is commonly deployed in enterprise environments for web hosting, database management, application development, and other server-related tasks.

Linux is a kernel, the core component of an operating system, while CentOS is a Linux distribution, which includes the Linux kernel along with additional software and utilities. CentOS is based on the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), providing a free, community-supported alternative to RHEL.

Yes, CentOS is predominantly used as a server operating system. It is designed to offer stability, reliability, and long-term support, making it well-suited for server deployments in enterprise environments.

CentOS stands for Community Enterprise Operating System. It is called "Enterprise" because it is based on the same source code used in Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). The "Community" aspect reflects its development and support model, which relies on contributions from a diverse community of volunteers and users.

Lisa P

Lisa P

Hello, everyone, my name is Lisa. I'm a passionate electrical engineering student with a keen interest in technology. I'm fascinated by the intersection of engineering principles and technological advancements, and I'm eager to contribute to the field by applying my knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems.